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press conferenceDefendants: Jason Garcia, aka “Mecca-J” (DOB 03/21/93,) Mount Vernon;Laquanna Kershaw, aka “Q,” aka “Quanna” (DOB 09/13/87), Ossining; Cassaundra Dunham, Aka “Saun” (DOB 06/04/76), Yonkers;Damien Rickard, aka Damien Richardson, aka “Soldier” (DOB 07/21/77), Elmsford

May 25, 2019 -- Westchester County District Attorney Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr. announced the indictment and arraignment of four defendants on multiple charges related to a plan to murder a witness in a pending criminal case, a plan devised from inside the Westchester County Jail.

“G-Shine Bloods” gang members Jason Garcia and Damien Rickard, along with Cassaundra Dunham and Laquanna Kershaw were indicted for Attempted Murder in the First Degree, Conspiracy in the Second Degree and other charges in relation to their attempts to murder an eyewitness. That underlying case charges Garcia and a co-defendant with attempted murder for a shooting at the Garden Bar in Mount Vernon Dec. 10, 2016. Two victims were shot there and permanently injured. That case was set to begin trial soon.

See full press conference video on Westchester DA YouTube Channel

The multicount indictment handed up by the Westchester County Grand Jury was unsealed at arraignment today by Westchester County Court Judge David Zuckerman.

The indictment reads as follows:

  • Count 1: The four defendants are charged with Attempted Murder in the First Degree, a class A violent felony. The indictment alleges that together they attempted to commit the murder of an eyewitness.
  • Count 2: All four defendants and a fifth unnamed co-conspirator are charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a class C felony. The indictment states, from Aug. 21, 2018, to on or about March 16, 2019, they were involved in conspiring to commit the class A-1 felony of Murder in the First Degree to stop a witness from testifying.
  • Count 3: Defendants Garcia, Dunham and Rickard are charged with Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, a class C felony.
  • Count 4: Kershaw is charged with Promoting Prison Contraband in the First Degree, a class D felony, for bringing an illegal phone charger into the jail.
  • Count 5: Garcia is charged with Promoting Prison Contraband in the First Degree, a class D felony, for possessing an illegal cellphone.

Background
According to the indictment, defendants Jason Garcia and a co-defendant, while in remand in County Jail awaiting trial, conspired to commit murder. Defendants Laquanna Kershaw and Cassaundra Dunham were “girlfriends” of Garcia who were allowed to visit the jail and, in person and through phone calls, conspired with their co-defendants. While on release from jail on an unrelated case, defendant Rickard was recruited by his co-conspirators to find and kill the witness.

Throughout the investigation, Westchester County District Attorney Investigators learned that Garcia, while incarcerated at the County Jail, was using a secreted cellular telephone and other means to communicate with his accomplices. Through telephone calls, the co-conspirators used coded language to discuss their plans to locate and kill the witness. Garcia, a high-ranking member of the G-Shine Bloods gang, directed fellow G-Shine member, Rickard, to kill the witness and arranged for Dunham to provide Rickard with a loaded handgun, equipped with a laser-sight, for that purpose. Garcia and Kershaw discussed at length the whereabouts of the witness and the best place to commit the murder, preferring a location that did not have surveillance cameras.

On March 16, 2019, Dunham and Rickard were arrested in the vicinity of Park Avenue, Yonkers, after law enforcement surveilled the hand-off of the gun from Dunham to Rickard.

The case is being prosecuted by members of the Westchester County District Attorney’s Investigations Division Gang, Firearms and Narcotics Bureau and Public Integrity Bureau.

The District Attorney’s Office Investigations Division and Criminal Investigators were assisted in this investigation by the Westchester County Department of Correction and received additional support from the Yonkers Police Department, the Village of Ossining Police Department and the Westchester County Department of Public Safety.

Westchester County District Attorney Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr. said:
“Our mission is always to keep Westchester safe and secure, and with that in mind, the safety of witnesses in every case is paramount. A witness to a crime should never fear coming forward. We do everything we can to ensure their safety and this case proves that.” DA Scarpino added, “In addition to commending the Department of Corrections for their work on this investigation, we reaffirm our commitment to working with them as important partners in law enforcement. We maintain that the safety and security of everyone in the jail is important. Swift and sure punishment of criminal behavior is the best way to ensure that such behavior does not recur or persist. We thank Yonkers Police, Ossining Police and Westchester County Police for their assistance in this example of true collaboration.”

Westchester County Executive George Latimer said:
“I would like to thank the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, with the Department of Correction for their work to uncover and investigate this attempted murder and conspiracy, which could have taken the life of a witness. Witness intimidation undermines the capacity of law enforcement to deliver justice to victims, which is essential.

I thank County Police, Yonkers Police and Ossining Police for their help in this long investigation.”

Correction Commissioner Joseph K. Spano stated:
“I would like to recognize the work of our Department’s Major Case Squad for its involvement in this highly-sensitive investigation.  The Squad worked in close collaboration with the District Attorney’s Office and other police agencies for weeks, gathering critical jail-based intelligence which was relied on to support today’s indictments.”

Yonkers Police Commissioner Charles Gardner stated:
“This indictment further exemplifies how local law enforcement and prosecutors are committed to working together to keep our communities safe. In this instance, another illegal handgun was taken off the street and violence was averted. I applaud the efforts of the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, the Village of Ossining Police Department, the Westchester County Department of Public Safety, and our own Yonkers Police members for their hard work and diligence in this investigation.”

In compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 3.6, you are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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